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Shame as a Motivational Technique

Shame as a Motivational Technique

In Tom Verducci’s entertaining book, The Cub’s Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse, he describes an incident very early in skipper Joe Maddon’s career. In 1986, Maddon was managing the Double-A Midland Angels in Texas. They were a bad team who had just suffered another bad loss. Maddon was apoplectic. He found a newspaper stand, purchased a variety of papers, and began cutting out the classified ads. Later, he taped up these “Help Wanted” advertisements all over the clubhouse, including on the backs of bathroom stalls. The message was clear: “If you’re…

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The NBA Finals, Finally

The NBA Finals, Finally

The NBA playoffs have come to their long awaited climax: the third straight Finals matchup between the Cavaliers and Warriors. Neither team has been slowed down at all thus far. The Warriors are 12-0 and the Cavs are 12-1. The average margin of victory across the playoffs has been a disappointingly wide 13.5 points, and both teams made quick work of their conference finals foes – including 30+ point beat downs of the Spurs and Celtics, respectively. So there’s a lot of pressure on this series to deliver.

Still, there have been some memorable moments in these playoffs: the electric first round matchup of…

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From the Archives: Thy Jilted Lover Shall Rejoice (Again)?

From the Archives: Thy Jilted Lover Shall Rejoice (Again)?

In anticipation of the third NBA Finals meeting (in a row!) between the Warriors and Cavs, we thought this might be a timely one to resurface from last year’s series. 

Don’t look now but Loserville–the “mistake on the lake” that is Cleveland Ohio–is about to improbably get their NBA championship. The stars are aligning around the Cleveland Cavaliers. It’s really pretty incredible. We had anointed the Golden State Warriors repeat NBA champions back in February, while they were on their way to the best NBA regular season of all-time. Stephen Curry had supplanted Lebron as the best player on the planet….and…

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How to Draw a Crowd on the Playground

How to Draw a Crowd on the Playground

On Fridays I mentor a fifth-grade boy at a local elementary school. The hour we spend together begins in a classroom where he eats his lunch and we work jigsaw puzzles, play board games, and build race cars out of Legos. But when lunch is over, this boy cannot wait to go outside.

You can learn a lot on an elementary school playground. Your hand-eye coordination improves as you learn to dodge the four-to-five basketballs that are always flying. I’ve discovered that the number one kind of football catch that every fifth-grade boy wants to make is the backwards, flying, three-finger catch immortalized…

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NCAA Final Four: The Gamecocks are "Letting the Sun Go Down On Their Anger"

NCAA Final Four: The Gamecocks are “Letting the Sun Go Down On Their Anger”

You may say, “Well that’s not biblical,” but the Gamecocks have to, or they don’t get to play. No, seriously, if a player doesn’t show up angry, he sits the bench. “If you’re not matching his intensity, you’re not going to be on the floor,” said freshman guard Tommy Corchiani, while describing coach Frank Martin. That intensity? It ain’t no joke. I remember first noticing Martin when he coached Kansas State in the NCAA tourney a few years back. On a court full of very large, physically imposing people, he stood out to me as (by far) the most ominous presence,…

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March Madness Preview

March Madness Preview

The NCAA tournament, that glorious spectacle that only comes but once a year, is finally upon us. Sportswriter Bob Ryan said that if the field of 68 duked it out six times, we’d have six different winners. Sounds like brackets will be busted early and often, which, in my view, makes for the most enjoyable viewing experience. Sure, Michigan State was my pick last year (sorry Hoos), but I was stoked to see Middle Tennessee State do the unthinkable and knock off Sparty in the first round. Once my dreams of a perfect bracket are shattered, usually in the first…

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The Magic in Magical Thinking

The Magic in Magical Thinking

“…conscious uncoupling…”

“…and Mexico will pay for it!”

“We are the ones we have been waiting for.”

We cannot help it. Humans desperately need to square the circle. I want to find a cosmic thread or Special Sauce that allows the New York Football Giants to somehow, over about 6 coaching changes and zillions of players post-LT/Simms, to somehow get to the Super Bowl every year.

That is Magical Thinking.

But not every illogical extrapolation is as delusional as the Giants making the Super Bowl in the next few years. Not all desire-driven reality-bnding is magical. Heroin, smoking, and bacon have no objective merit: to…

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Gaga for Gaga

Gaga for Gaga

“The glory of God is man fully alive.” -Irenaeus

I don’t know the last time I was so fixated on a Super Bowl half time show. Actually I can state with complete confidence that I’ve never been so fixated on one. From beginning to end, Lady Gaga’s performance at Super Bowl LI was one for the record books. It was glorious in the best sense of the word.

No doubt Gaga’s performance will inspire a sea of words on the interwebs in the next 24 to 48 hours. I hesitate to add the pile of prose. But something caught my eye that…

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Super Bowl LI Postscript: Joy and Pain, That's the Deal

Super Bowl LI Postscript: Joy and Pain, That’s the Deal

Fact. Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback ever. Fact. Super Bowl 51: to rehash it would be to diminish it.  To explain how exceptional Tom Brady and the Pats were at the end (if we are talking human beings, celebrities, biggest stage) would be to diminish them. Hear this out: The arguably greatest QB in history, before Sunday, just orchestrated the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.  That’s not hyperbole. That’s what happened.

Cut to my very-much-in-Atlanta family room with all of our offspring fully present in full Falcon regalia. Third quarter: Falcons up 28-3. What? No really, seriously? We were…

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Super Bowl Preview 2 (and Prediction) - The Transformation of Tom Brady

Super Bowl Preview 2 (and Prediction) – The Transformation of Tom Brady

“Your men love you. If I knew nothing else about you, that would be enough” – Prince Edward (to Heath Ledger/William) “A Knights Tale”.

We know a lot about Tom Brady, and there are so many reasons to hate him. He cheated. He is a good friend of of the person most centered in the cross-hairs of the ire of many right now. He’s married to (according to us) the woman who possesses the most robust combination of  wealth and beauty of any woman in the world. That pretty much covers it for many of us. Such a variety of…

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On "Omniscient" Narrators: W.C. Heinz's "Death of a Racehorse"

On “Omniscient” Narrators: W.C. Heinz’s “Death of a Racehorse”

Sportswriters are not generally awarded the prestigious seats at writer’s guild meetings. But when the Library of America brings out a collection of your sportswriting, as they did for W.C. Heinz, the guild must make an exception. Imagine what Heinz’s reportorial eyes witnessed —  the right crosses of Rocky Marciano, the mercurial shouts of Vince Lombardi, and the sweet swing of Stan Musial (not to mention the Battle of the Bulge). Writing his best work at mid-20th century, Heinz bridged the golden era of sportswriters like Grantland Rice with the New Journalism of Tom Wolfe. His boxing novel (“The…

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Super Bowl Preview #1: The Atlanta Falcons Reject "The Disease of Me" by Embracing "Brothership"

Super Bowl Preview #1: The Atlanta Falcons Reject “The Disease of Me” by Embracing “Brothership”

Here is the first of two Super Bowl Previews (one highlighting each team) and why one can be justified in pulling for either team in Super Bowl LI. Legendary NBA executive and coach, Pat Riley wrote a book in 2013 called The Disease of Me, a treatise on how self-centeredness (being curved in on one’s self) can and does sabotage even the best of teams (be it a team in sports, business, family units, etc.). Riley speaks from a place of experience, having had both underachieving and overachieving teams as a coach and GM in the NBA.  Here are Riley’s key…

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